Lawsuits accuse automakers of faulty air bags, recall delays

DETROIT (AP) — Three class actions filed Wednesday allege that General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes knew of problems with exploding Takata air bag inflators yet waited years to issue recalls.

The lawsuits cite company documents obtained through previous lawsuits. The plaintiffs allege that automakers were informed of inflator defects during tests but delayed taking action.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create small explosions to inflate air bags. But the chemical can deteriorate and explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister and hurling shrapnel. At least 22 people have died worldwide and more than 180 injured.

Messages were left Wednesday seeking comment from the companies.

The lawsuits allege that owners paid higher prices for their vehicles than they would have if the defect had been disclosed.